Last week, Mitt Romney finally admitted that he pays a tax rate of 15 percent, lower than that of many middle-class families. Romney is taxed at such a low rate because, as he freely admits, all of his income comes from investments, and is thus subject to the top capital gains tax rate of 15 percent, rather than the top income tax rate of 35 percent.
However, Romney has refused to sign on to the Obama administration’s “Buffett rule,” which aims to ensure that millionaires can’t dodge taxes to the extent that they’re paying less than teachers. Today, billionaire investor Warren Buffett himself was asked about Romney’s tax rate, replying that letting millionaire investors like Romney pay such low taxes is “the wrong policy” because he makes his income by just “shoving around money”:
He makes his money the same way I make my money. He makes money by moving around big bucks, not by straining his back and going to work cleaning the toilets or whatever it may be. He makes it shoving around money. I make it shoving around money. If you look at the 400 highest incomes in the United States, they average $220 million. Something like 90 of them are effectively unemployed. They have no earned income, and that number has gone up over the years. [...]
It’s the wrong policy to have. Nothing wrong about [Romney] doing that. He will not pay more than the law requires. I don’t fault him for that in the least, but I do fault the law that allows him and me, earning enormous sums to pay over all federal taxes at a rate that is about half what the average person in my office pays.